The Taste of the Polish Summer

Abundant in fresh, mouthwatering fruit, the Polish summer is juicy, sweet and sour. If you happen to be visiting Poland during the summer months, don’t forget to drop by the greengrocer’s or one of the local markets in order to pamper your senses and give your taste buds a special treat. The fresh Polish fruit is an inseparable part of childhood holiday memories. Make it an inseparable part of your Poland tour memories as well!

A łubianka of strawberries

The kind of fruit that shows up the earliest (already in June) are probably strawberries. Poles go crazy about them! We eat them raw, make homemade jams, drink strawberry kompot (stewed fruit), put them in all kinds of pastries and even make strawberry-stuffed pierogi. But my absolute favorite is the strawberry smoothie with kefir (a fermented milk drink). Yum!

Strawberries are sold a punnet called łubianka, which is basically a basket made of woodchips, and it can accommodate about two kilos of strawberries. Apart from being eco-friendly (it is a reusable container), the łubianka lowers the risk of your strawberries being squashed and mashed while you carry them home.

But what would the Polish summer be without… wild strawberries? They are tiny, flavorous and their smell is to die for. As children, we’d go wild strawberry picking, thread the berries on a straw and then eat them or give them to someone as a present. With all the fantastic tourist attractions in Poland, you probably won’t have enough time to go wild strawberry picking, but you needn’t worry, they are also available at the greengrocer’s. They are sold in small containers and are quite expensive, though.

Pink and black

Raspberries, oh lovely raspberries! They are also very popular among Poles. If you’re Polish and have a summer house somewhere in the country, you’re very likely to have your own raspberry bush in the garden and you can have your raspberries fresh, straight from the bush. They’re also perfect for making jams.

But if you want your dessert to look impressive, blackberries will definitely do the trick. You can pick them on your own in the forest, but be careful with the thorns! Blackberries are very nutricious and they are often quite sour.

Straight from the bush

It seems that we really enjoy having our fruit straight from the bush. That’s how we usually have our gooseberries and currants. We grow them in our allotment gardens by the dozens! (Did I mention how popular allotment gardens in Poland are? Oh yes, I actually did: Growing Food in the Middle of the City)

Ripe gooseberries are a bit purple. If you have never tried gooseberries in your life, start with the ripe ones. You can also eat green gooseberries, which are delicious, but they are also very sour and tart.

Currants come in three different colors: red, black and white. The red ones are probably the most sour. We eat them raw or dink lots of redcurrant kompot. Currants are said to be very rich in vitamin C.

Of course if you don’t happen to have your own gooseberry or currant bush, you can easily buy the fruit at the greengrocer’s.

Perfect for pastries

In late summer we all go nuts about bilberries. They are smaller and darker than the typical American blueberry, and they are also more sour. We have them with cream and sugar, we make bilberry smoothies and we stuff our pierogi with bilberries. But they are also great for pastries. Our absolute number one is the bilberry bun with crumble, available literally everywhere in August. Is your tour of Poland scheduled for August? Remember to reat yourself with a bilberry bun!

Talking about pastries, we simply can’t forget about rhubarb. (Well, yes, technically speaking it’s not a fruit, it’s a veggie, but on the other hand tomatoes are not veggies, they’re fruit, so now we’re even!). Rhubarb rules on the Polish table together with strawberries in early summer. It is very sour, so we rarely have it raw, but if you cook it with sugar, you’ll get a delicious kompot, and you can bake delicious cakes, tarts and pies with rhubarb.

Pastries are also great with cherries. Sour cherries, to be more specific. What is more, sour cherries can be used to make delicious jams, kompot or even… cherry soup, which is served chilled, with pasta. Oh, and let’s not forget wiśniówka, the sweet Polish cherry liquor.

We actually distinguish between two kinds of cherries: sour cherries (wiśnie) and sweet cherries (czereśnie). Sweet cherries come in different colors, from dark red, through pinkish to yellowish, and are eaten raw.

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